The Pros and Cons of Piling Materials

Piling is a method of installing deep foundations for construction which involves driving long, stake-like poles deep into the ground so they are supported by the firm, sturdy earth further into the ground and not the loose, muddy soil near the surface. Piles come in a variety of materials, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. We’re breaking these down here, so you can easily tell which is right for your project!


Using wood for piling results in the lowest rating for weight-bearing but is also the most economically friendly option! Wood is readily available and cheap, most especially if your construction project is taking place in a timber-rich region. Wooden piles are fairly light and easy to transport and install, so less machinery and expertise is needed, but wood is also very vulnerable to erosion and rot, meaning these piles can require higher levels of upkeep!


  • Cheap
  • Readily available
  • Requires little machinery and expertise


  • Lowest strength
  • Can be damaged easily during installation
  • Most vulnerable to erosion



Concrete is the next-strongest method of piling and, although a common misconception is that concrete cannot bear a heavy load, can be used to support industrial sized projects. Concrete is versatile and can be installed a number of ways. Pre-cast concrete piles are made in advance and transported to the site, just like wooden or steel piles would be. Cast in-situ piles are installed by pouring concrete into the ground and allowing it to set and can be installed with or without the aid of a steel casing. Concrete is incredibly resistant to erosion or weathering even in soil with very high/low PH values.


  • Can support significant weight
  • Versatile and adaptable
  • Resistant to erosion


  • Not as economically friendly as wood
  • Cumbersome to transport (pre-cast)
  • Still at risk of breaking during transit or installation


Steel is without a doubt the strongest material available. The durability of steel is second to none and it is easily cut to size or spliced together to lengthen. Steel is the only material able to support structures like skyscrapers, tower blocks, and other huge, industrial projects. Steel piles can be vulnerable to corrosion in the soil, especially near the top where it is more exposed to oxygen and groundwater. Steel is also the most expensive material available so, if you project can be fully supported by wooden or concrete piles, they would be the more economically sensible options!


  • Maximum strength and highest load bearing
  • Easy to customise for specific projects


  • Most expensive material
  • Can rust, oxidise and corrode


So which material is right for your construction? Each of these materials is perfect for one piling project, but completely unsuitable for another. For expert advice and a full on-site evaluation, contact Rhino Piling today, and we will ensure you end up with the ideal piling material for your specific needs.